Stuffing was never high on my list of Thanksgiving loves. I never loved the flavor, and was put off by the number of ingredients involved.
That all changed about three years ago when I started making my own, with lots of bacon and sausage.
Anything that can act as a vehicle for as much meat and savory goodness as you can stuff into a pan is good by me. Thanksgiving dishes give me an opportunity to go a little bit crazy and not worry so much about the healthier way that I usually eat. Portion control in the stuffing and mash potatoes department are completely gone. I figure once a year, I can really let loose and pack in the good stuff.
If you can line up all your ingredients and cook the elements you need in advance, this stuffing will come together quickly and easily. There will be lots of dicing, browning and dishes, but all for the good cause of making the best stuffing ever.
This year, I used port to rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms and added dried California figs, instead of dried apricots.
You can amend this recipe however you'd like: use wine instead of port; morels instead of porcini; pecans instead of chestnuts. Whatever you do, keep the earthy flavors balancing out the sweet and nutty flavors and you'll have yourself a wonderful stuffing.
Below is the recipe, but here are links to some of the main ingredients, which I've posted before:
Thanksgiving Porcini, Bacon, Sausage, Cornbread and Chestnut Stuffing
- 5 corn muffins, crumbled (click here for the recipe)
- 10 to 15 roasted chestnuts, chopped into bits (click here for the recipe)
- 2 to 4 slices oven-baked bacon, chopped into small bits (click here for the recipe)
- 4 dried figs, sliced into small pieces
- 8 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup port (or red wine or brandy)
- 2 hot italian sausages, casing removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 sweet onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup walnuts, smashed
- 6 sage leaves, minced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a fork.
- Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until he meat has browned.
- Meanwhile, put the porcini mushrooms and port in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Cook the porcini until they have absorbed 2/3 of the liquid.
- Once the sausages have browned, add the onions and garlic and cook until they soften, about 10 minutes.
- Take a rimmed baking dish and place the corn muffins, chestnuts, walnuts, sage and bacon bits into it.
- Add the porcini and the port to the sausage pan, stirring for about five minutes.
- While everything cooks, grab a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the porcini into small pieces. You may also need to chop up the sausages a bit, too.
- Remove the sauté pan from the heat and add the ingredients to the rimmed baking dish, mixing everything up.
- Pour the chicken stock over the stuffing and mix it in to help the cornbread to absorb it.
- Place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring once. It may take a bit longer, it's done when you find the sausage nice a crispy.